Trump Has Ordered the Justice Department to Ban Bump Stocks in Wake of the Parkland Shooting

Following the Parkland shooting that killed 17 at a Florida high school, President Donald Trump has said that he asked his attorney general to propose changes that would ultimately ban bump stocks, according to CNN. Bump stock legislation has been in process ever since the massacre at a Las Vegas concert in October 2017. According to The New York Times, twelve of the rifles that the Las Vegas gunman had in his hotel room were modified with bump stocks, a detail which would make mass shootings much deadlier. 

The Washington Post detailed exactly what a bump stock is and why it’s so deadly. A bump stock is a piece of plastic or metal molded to fit the back end of a rifle. It is able to harness the rifle’s recoil to fire dozens of rounds in a short period of time. Essentially, when the gun's recoil ‘bumps’ into the user's body, the bump stock ‘bumps’ the rifle into the trigger finger. This allows shots to be fired in rapid succession. 

A bump stock is most deadly when combined with high-capacity magazines that can hold dozens of rounds of ammo at once, The Post continued. The bumping simulates an automatic weapon by rapidly firing off many bullets in a short time. This makes accuracy almost impossible, but if fired into a large crowd, it can hurt a massive amount of people

Why are bump stocks legal? Well, Fox News reported that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives “concluded bump stocks didn't convert a semi-automatic firearm into one that is fully automatic, meaning it was not equivalent to machine guns that are regulated under the National Firearms Act.” After Las Vegas, some states, like Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Carolina and California, made the sale and possession of bump stocks illegal.

Trump’s message to the Justice Department is to implement a federal law banning bump stocks. According to CNBC, Trump said, "We cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make a difference.”

He continued, "After the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, I directed [Attorney General Jeff Sessions] to clarify whether certain bump stock devices like the one used in Las Vegas are illegal under current law. That process began in December, and just a few moments ago I signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.”

In response to the president’s remarks, the NRA said that they “cannot comment until an actual rule is published with specifics that we can review. The NRA's stance on this issue has not changed. Fully-automatic weapons have been heavily regulated since the 1930s, but banning semi-automatic firearms and accessories has been shown time and again to not prevent criminal activity and simply punishes the law-abiding for the criminal acts of others,” according to CBS News

The Justice Department responded to Trump's comments in a statement as well. CBS News reported that the DOJ’s statement read, “The department understands this is a priority for the president and has acted quickly to move through the rulemaking process. We look forward to the results of that process as soon as it is duly completed.”

It’s important to clarify that while this comes right after the shooting at a Florida school, the suspect in that shooting did not use a bump stock to carry out the massacre. Regulation of bump stocks has been in the works ever since the Las Vegas shooting, but it was reignited along with a discussion of universal background checks after the Valentine's Day shooting in Parkland.